Like a pig in mud Gladstone feasted on tries thumping Marist 41-nil, in premier one club rugby in Masterton this afternoon.
Given the heavy rain over the last 24-hours, Marist’s decision to play the game on the No.2 ground at Memorial Park, instead of the artificial turf only metres away defied logic. By half time it looked downright silly.
The sticky paddock was like a second skin for the visitors whose forward thrived in the conditions.
Marist were awful from the start, and only got worse as the match progressed. By half-time Gladstone had racked up 24-points and it was game over. They went off the boil in the third quarter, only to refuel their appetite for tries running in three more before the end.
Gladstone’s first three tries came from the tight five. Lock Andrew Smith crashed over from a pick-and-go, prop Richard Webby scored in similar circumstances with hooker Richard Puddy muscle in to complete the trifecta.
As if to further emphasis the point that Marist was having an off day, the fourth try, just before half time, came from a hopelessly directed pass from the back of the scrum that Gladstone centre Matthew Macrae was able seize on and race the 10 metres to the line.
Marist offered a bit of resistance in the second half, but most of their enterprise was thwarted by their own poor handling.
Elusive openside flanker Scott Harpham showed off his skill-set with a terrific kick to the corner which he then some how managed to regather in the melee and come up with the fifth try.
First-five eight Brad Griffith put another nail in the coffin with a sixth five-point when he darted through a hole close to the line. His brother Tim added to Marist’s misery near the end.
It was far from a classic game of rugby, but for the purist – providing you are from Gladstone – it was beautiful. Their big burly eight played superbly in the conditions and also showed good patience. No.8 Eddie Cranston made more runs with the ball than the number on his back, with fellow looses Harpham and Bryn Henderson in the thick of the action. The engine room of the Gladdy pack – Smith and Andrew McLean – were giants, initiating much of the momentum. Half-back Inia Katia also used the conditions well, making little stabbing runs and keeping Marist buried in their half time with well executed grubber kicks.
In other matches, Greytown banked maximum points beating neighbours Carterton 27-13, Eketahuna edged out Pioneer 33-29 at Jean Street, while Martinborough were 46-19 winners of East Coast.
Greytown and Gladstone are level on 24-points at the top of the table, although Gladstone has the better points differential.